Whilst it also needs to finish its 4G rollout to all UK towns and cities in 2014, the mobile network operator EE is reportedly planning to focus its attentions on 4G roaming next year.
At the moment, those who want to use their smartphone or tablet abroad and use data roaming services cannot access 4G speeds. So, for example, people with iPhone 5s contracts on the fastest network, which is believed to be EE at the moment, who want to use data roaming abroad, will be limited to 3G speeds. This is despite the fact that they may have been using 4G at home and be used to super-fast speeds.
EE is planning to change this, starting next year. The operator has revealed that it is investigating the best way to roll out 4G roaming services to its customers, and will be bringing out its first deals at some time next year (no official date has yet been announced). All that Paul Ceely, EE’s head of network strategy, can tell us at the moment is that:
“We don’t have a roaming set up, we’re looking to do that quite soon,”
“We’re testing things, but I can’t tell you which operators yet.”
What is believed to be holding EE back at the moment is not technical issues but the fact that different parts of the world have 4G networks operating on different frequencies. LTE 4G, which the UK currently has, can run on virtually any frequency, which is one of the best things about it. However, to offer roaming, the EE 4G broadband team will need to make sure that it’s 4G handsets will work at the different frequencies that LTE networks are run on in different countries. For example, at the moment, a 4G-ready iPhone bought in the UK won’t work properly on 4G networks in the US.